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The Dolomites, Italy - Campitello and Corvara - February 2015

post #1 of 15
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For the northern hemisphere winter we arranged to once again head to the north of Italy.  By coincidence, and a bit of arm wringing, we’d managed to arrange to ski consecutive weeks with two separate groups of friends, in two separate towns, in the Dolomites north of Venice.  During our first week we stayed in Campitello, care of Dolomites Ski Tours, and were guided by friends of ours.  On the middle Saturday afternoon we skied over to the town of Corvara, about 20km away, and caught up with more friends, joining them for the second half of their own two week trip.  Dolomites Ski Tours arranged for our bags to be dropped off at our Hotel in Corvara, so all we had to do was ski around the Sella Massif and schuss into town.  Our bags were waiting for us in our room.  That’s a great start to a ski week.


Before we arrived in the Alps we first had a night in Venice to recuperate from about 26 hours of travelling.




From Venice we were picked up for the drive into the Alps.  Here we’re on our way up through the foothills.



Day one and we made a colourful start to the day.  The village of Campitello requires a cable car uplift each morning – the Col Rodella – along with a corresponding download each evening.



Each morning we cranked on our boots and started making turns from this very point, looking out at the Sassolungo (‘Langkofel’ in German).


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For our first morning we stayed local, skiing the Belvedere region above the villages of Campitello and Canazei – the Val di Fassa.  The food is going to be a recurring theme in this report.  I had the best spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chilli) I’ve ever had in my life for lunch on day one.  A marvellous start to the week.  The top of the Col Rodella is the shed across the valley at top left in the following shot – to the left of the avalanche fences.


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The village of Campitello (almost) catches the sunlight.



Here we’re approaching the Passo Pordoi - the mountain pass separating the Arabba region from the Belvedere / Val di Fassa side.



We made the trip up the Pordoi cable car to the top of the Sella Massif.  Here we’re looking back towards the Sassolungo above Campitello.


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And here’s one looking back down into the valley from beside the top station with Passo Pordoi on the right.  The avalanche fences at centre right of shot are the ones shown in the shot above ... we’re just looking down on them from on high.


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Inside the rifugio there’s a small memorium for Shane McConkey.  Sadly this was the locale for his final turns.



Here we’re booting up for the run home with some of the team looking up to check out the top of the Sella.  In the sun across the valley, above and a bit to the left of the avalanche fencing, is the top station for the Col Rodella.  That’s our destination for the afternoon download to Campitello.  



On the first Wednesday we headed for the Marmolada Glacier.  It was cold that morning - minus twelve Celsius in the village, and about minus twenty up on the hill (or about zero farenheit).  The glacier runs underneath the rocky ridge on the skyline.  You can see the intermediate and top stations in this shot.



Looking back down into the valley from the intermediate station ...


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... and looking down the cable car line from the top station. 



Here’s the crew at the top.  It’s somewhere around 3,300 metres, or about 11,000 feet.



But, as you can see to the right of shot, the weather was closing in fast, so we rallied out of there.


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And down we went.




From part way down we could see a wave of people following us, all trying to get out before the weather filled in.



Here’s the bottom cable car station.



Past the cable car station is a natural gorge leading you to the village of Sottoguda.  There are frozen waterfalls on all sides, and it seems to be a bit of a Mecca for ice climbers.





So you take a few shots and head out of the gorge and into Sottoguda for lunch.  In this case it was pumpkin gnocchi (the house is famous for it) and a carafe of house red, all followed by a complimentary schnapps served in a little chocolate cup.  Yum!


The next day brought a crisp, clear morning in Campitello, with a beautiful side view of the Sassolungo. We were heading to Restaurant Val dÁnna for lunch this day ... it's all about lunch after all.



Up we go.



Early tracks.



Then we hopped on a tube train.  The area is certainly not short of investment in infrastructure.



And, after another couple of chairs, we emerge on top of the world.  You don’t want to look over the edge as it’s about a thousand feet down (hence that very secure looking fence).  The peaks on the horizon are in Austria.  


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After a ten kilometre run down into the next valley we found restaurant Val dÁnna in time for lunch.  I chose the Pasta Carbonara from memory (and a good one too) plus a sufficiently large container of the house red, which was also very good.


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The run down from Seceda.


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Back in Campitello and the Mayor had parked his ride in the centre of town ... a two horsepower beauty.






The next day got up windy and there was some snow about, so we stayed in the trees.




The wind rose steadily all day, which is uncommon for the area.  It left people in danger of being stranded in the wrong valley should the lifts stop running.



And then the snow started to come on properly.





Here is the day’s tally in the village.



Saturday is changeover day and the guides get the day off.  It also happened to be a powder day, so we headed for the Ciampac / Buffaure area to get some powder turns in for Dave’s birthday.  Here’s a morning shot of the powder bowl at Buffaure.  Gorgeous!


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Here the boys are traversing out, looking for their line.



Stage one completed.



Looking back up the bowl from the chair on one of many laps.



A few slides were going off so a bit of care was in order.



Just a beautiful place on a beautiful day.



But ... there goes the neighbourhood.



This is looking back up the bowl at Ciampac.  One of our guys had to moonwalk backwards out of the path of the slide on the left as it went past his ski tips (and over the ski track of the guy before him).



But, after a great day, by mid-afternoon it was time to say our goodbyes and ski over to join another group of friends in the next town.





To be continued ...

Edited by sinbad7 - 4/13/15 at 4:39am
post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 

... and carrying on.


Here we are arriving into Corvara in the late afternoon.  Our bags were in the room, friends were in the bar, and people coming in from California to be with us had arrived about forty minutes earlier. All in all it could not have been more perfect.



The next day the wind had really picked up, ripping loose snow off any exposed slopes and funnelling over the Passo Gardena at what must have been well above 120km/h.  A wind slab was being ripped off the surface of the snow to become ice frisbees that threatened life and limb on the downwind slopes.  I tried to grab a shot of one, but the cold meant I was quickly losing the feeling in my hand.



Further down the valley - near Colfosco - things became a bit more mellow.


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The top station for one of my favourite runs, above Colfosco.


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Here’s a shot of the Val Mesdi, cutting down from the top of the Sella Massif.



The town of Corvara, as seen from Colfosco.



Coming back into town on the Borest gondola.  Four years ago this was a quad chair, which did the job nicely.  Now it’s a gondola.  [edit - I've since learned the quad was taken out by an avalanche in the deep snow season of 2014.  I must have been facing and looking the other way each time I was in the gondola, and I missed the avalanche path]



Back onto my food theme.  This one was so good it rated a photo.  Tortellini filled with a smoked cheese in a creamy, burnt butter sauce, topped with shavings of black truffle.  Just wow!  That's destined to be the year’s most memorable meal, no matter what happens or where I go for the rest of the year.  Restaurant Moritzino, Alta Badia, at the top of the Gran Risa above La Villa (being the World Cup GS course).



And the view out the window (past the schnapps and the grappa) was pretty impressive as well.



We did the World War 1 (the Grande Guerre) route on one day.  This is an ice fountain in one of the villages.



Never a good sign ... one of our group cracked a shoulder immediately following ... not that I'm superstitious or anything.



From that point the bus trip to get back up the hill involved 25 steep turns up the pass.



Here we’re heading up to the pass at Cinque Torre, heading for Lagazuoi above the Passo Falzarego ...



... where Spiderman had parked his Land Rover.



A couple of the views as we skied down from Lagazuoi.


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The intention was lunch at Scotoni Hutte (2,040 metres), but our friend was out of action so we continued on towards Corvara.


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At the bottom of the valley, and for a couple of euro, the gypsies drag you to the nearest lift behind a horse drawn sleigh ... or you could skate and push for a kilometre or more - your choice.



This is the village of San Cassiano ...



... and a shot heading out of the village in the gondola.


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The next morning this was the view of the Alta Badia area from the top of the Boe lift above Corvara.


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There are views everywhere, but I do think this is my favourite.  It’s the Passo Pordoi approached from the Arabba side.




There’s more investment underway for next year – a poster showing a new cable car to connect Alba to the Belvedere ski area.  To date Alba has only been accessible from the Sella Ronda by bus transfer, and not many people are confident enough to hop a bus to get away from the normal lifted routes.  The money spent on moving skiers around is just amazing.



Utia Punta Trieste - our favourite rifugio - is tucked away out of sight in the hills above Corvara, Alta Badia.  The best ribs in the area.



The view from the deck, with the Marmolada in the centre of shot, is unforgettable (bad photo stitch, sorry).


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And suddenly, that was it.  We cut our last day of skiing a little short to have lunch with the walking wounded, do a little shopping and get our bags packed.


Would we go back?  Absolutely!


Edited by sinbad7 - 9/30/15 at 11:51pm
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Just to round off the story, we spent five nights in Venice on the way out, with Carnevale going on over four of those nights.  Venice is amazing.  Carnevale is madly crowded; a combination of traditional Venetian customs and costumes, and a Halloween costume party.  Plus, as an added bonus, the graffiti rocks!











Harry's Bar.  The best martini ever.



A mandatory gondola ride.





And now, in no particular order, the graffiti roll of honour.






Edited by sinbad7 - 4/13/15 at 4:17am
post #4 of 15
Bravo.....now that's a trip report.....thank you!
post #5 of 15

This is so good I have to come back later and look more carefully.  To catch the Dolomites in good snow conditions is a dream come true.

post #6 of 15

Great report... looks awesome!

post #7 of 15

Want to do this exact trip so badly.  Looks amazing!

post #8 of 15
post #9 of 15
post #10 of 15

Sinbad, this is a ski trip or a relaxed tour through the Italian countryside taking in Venice before it sinks ... pretty awesome stuff there, and after 26 hours of flying, this is the way to decompress, you sure are Sinbad the Sailor ! in the modern context ;)


Beautiful pics. One question, you have one picture of the Val Mezdi, was it open to ski when you were there. Looks pretty snow-bound but I have read and heard directly much of the ski routes off Sasso Pordoi were closed because of low snow. This is February so am curious. They were closed or very tough to ski (dangerous and risky is what I was told and read here too) in March. Thanks and I wonder if anyone skied them around the Easter period.


A TR and a trip to live for..

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post

One question, you have one picture of the Val Mezdi, was it open to ski when you were there. Looks pretty snow-bound but I have read and heard directly much of the ski routes off Sasso Pordoi were closed because of low snow. This is February so am curious. They were closed or very tough to ski (dangerous and risky is what I was told and read here too) in March. Thanks and I wonder if anyone skied them around the Easter period.



I don't believe the Val Mesdi was open while we were there.  The Forcella Pordoi certainly was, and was in good condition.  There were a few tracks coming out of the narrow couloir to looker's right of the Forcella, and that looked to be in good condition as well.  I'll rummage though some photos and try to find one that shows both runs.  Meanwhile, here's a cool site that I found when trying to work out the name of that narrow couloir.



post #12 of 15

Thanks Sinbad. As usual those canyons confuse me, having never been and we are planning to go there one day, but only if we can do some of the canyons, easier ones for old man, and whatever is on tap for young one. Val Mezdi is the celebrated one in Colfosco yes? Forcella Pordoi is which run - area? Does anyone have a map of all those off-pistes as they are standard routes, you know also like Canale Holzer and Joel etc. I saw it once on a guides website but have not found it recently.


Anyway, your TR is a tour de force of how to do the Dolomites in style and in peace and get great mileage. Plus you were blessed with sunshine, powder, a few avalanches (below you or a bit of a ways away if that photograph told the story) all with a clan in tow from down under. 26 hours of traveling..that is some journey!

Edited by dustyfog - 4/16/15 at 7:41am
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

The following shot is taken from beside the bottom station of the Pordoi cable car.  I'm told that's a bit bony compared with a good season.  The Forcella is the obvious path down off the Sella Massif, centre of shot.  There were tracks coming out of the small couloir to looker's right of the Forcella.  I haven't been able to find it's name. 



This is the Val Mesdi, on the other side of the Sella Massif, as seen from the slopes above Corvara.


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post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Going back into my photos from four years ago, here's a shot of the bottom section of the Val Mesdi.


post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Here's a discussion on the couloirs in the Dolomites.



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